Building Bridges

Re-envisioning the Meeting, Part 1

“Wow…what a GREAT, productive meeting!”

When was the last time you heard someone say that? Hopefully the other day …. or has it been a while?

Meetings have, sometimes fairly, earned the reputation of being timewasters at best, scheduled
snooze-fests at worst. Too often, employees suffer through meetings until they are released from captivity, free to resume “real work” again.

Yet, meetings are actually “the laboratories of real, measureable teamwork,” according to an article by Kristine Kern of The Table Group ( They can in fact be very productive, if planned and run well.

At EnVision, we offer a proprietary and customizable course called “Making Meetings Meaningful.”  The cornerstone of the course is that a meeting’s success is not only determined by what occurs during the meeting, but also what happens both before and after. To conduct an effective meeting that really furthers participants’ work, you should:

Prepare Thoughtfully

Before you gather people together, know the objective for your meeting. What do you want to achieve? Be sure to only invite those people who will be interested in and/or impacted by the meeting’s content. If certain people don’t need to actually participate in the meeting, feel free to give them a pass and instead update them afterward.

Plan an agenda to keep the meeting focused and avoid tangents. And, estimate the time it will take to discuss each topic and share your timetable, so attendees know that the meeting, no matter how beneficial, won’t go on forever.

Start Strongly

From the beginning, set the tone that the meeting will be efficiently run. First, begin on time. If someone arrives late, acknowledge him and continue with the planned agenda. Backtracking will only frustrate those who came on time.

Share the meeting’s objective and agenda with the group so they know what to focus on. And, if needed, set ground rules for the meeting.  If your company is one that claims meetings as “smartphone free” zones, remind everyone to turn the sound off their phones and put them away.

Designate a “time keeper” as a back-up for ensuring that the meeting ends on time.

An organized start will set your meeting off on the right foot.

Next time: We’ll cover meeting facilitation, meeting close, and follow-up.